We think Toronto is an amazing city for families, but don’t just take our word for it! We’re asking local moms all over the city to tell us why they love their neighbourhoods and to share their favourite spots for kids.
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Cindy Oleson-Swartz has the 24/7 career of being a stay-at-home mom to a son and daughter, ages 18 and 11. Cindy has lived in the Regent Park neighbourhood for 17 years.
Here’s what Cindy has to say about her neighbourhood:
Why I Love My ‘Hood
The Regent Park area is an amazing place to raise kids! Here are some of the favourite places my family and I have discovered over the years.
The Regent Park Aquatic Centre boasts state-of-the art family change rooms and has a gorgeous pool with a slide, a rope swing, and diving boards. There is a toddler and baby area with bubbles and various fun water fountains, and during the summer there is a splash pad outside. Adjacent to the centre is a new playground that is also a huge hit with families.
My daughter’s favourite place for her creative outlet is ArtHeart. They provide free visual arts programs and materials to children between the ages of 5 and 15 in the Regent Park neighbourhood to build self-esteem and develop life skills.
Very convenient for parents is that ArtHeart has a free after-school program three days a week and a family drop-in program on Sunday afternoons.
Daniel’s Spectrum is Regent Park’s brand new and innovative cultural hub, home to many arts and community organizations. It hosts many types of workshops and programs for visitors or all ages, including music, dance, and arts programs for children.
Check their website regularly since their list of events, performances, and exhibitions are frequently updated.
4. Regent Park Farmer’s Market
When you’re done checking out Daniel’s Spectrum, cross the street to the Regent Park Farmer’s Market. It’s open every Wednesday throughout the summer from 3:30 pm to 7 pm. It’s a great place to buy a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits and amazing cooked food prepared by local chefs.
There’s also different musical and artistic entertainment every week to distract you from how much money you’re spending!
5. Parliament Street Restaurants
The west border of Regent Park is Parliament Street, which has a fantastic landscape and is home to many unique restaurants, making this neighbourhood a truly amazing place to live.
One of the most popular restaurants is House on Parliament, which is always extremely busy. The list of Parliament Street restaurants is extensive, so I have no doubt that there is a restaurant for everyone’s taste.
6. Parliament Street Library
Although technically beyond the borders of Regent Park, the Parliament Street Library is walking distance from anywhere in the neighbourhood and is a popular after-school meeting place for schoolchildren. It’s one of the many Toronto Public Library locations, and has all the same amenities as the rest, including computers, programs, and of course shelves and shelves of books.
7. The Children’s Book Bank
Also beyond Regent Park borders but right accross the street from the Parliament Street Library is the Children’s Book Bank. They collect used children’s books and give them away for free, one book per person per visit, and there are no limits to how frequently you can visit. There’s a ton of variety and there are helpful staff to help you and your kids pick out the perfect book for their taste.
Regent Park is at the east end of downtown Toronto, in what used to be known as South Cabbagetown. It is split into two parts; Regent Park North and Regent Park South. Both are bordered to the west by Parliament Street and the east by River Street, but Regent Park North goes from Gerrard Street down to Dundas Street East, and Regent Park South goes from Dundas Street East down to Shuter Street.
In the 1930s Regent Park was one of Toronto’s worst slums, but it was revitalized in 1949 and has remained mostly untouched until a few years ago. Changes are coming to the neighbourhood, as there is a 15-year $1 billion project in place to bring the neighbourhood market condos, affordable housing units, and new retail and community space. Already completed are an Aquatic Centre, Daniel’s Spectrum, and One Park Place.
Regent Park is a multicultural hub, with a wide range of backgrounds, including Canadian, African, Asian, Latin American, and many others. You notice the multiculturalism of the area simply by walking down the streets and focusing on what you hear, since more than sixty first languages are spoken here.
Read more in our growing Why We Love Toronto for Kids series.
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